Members of Local 290 in Woodbridge, New Jersey are hoping to stop fire tragedies from starting inside homes. Members have started a special home inspection program for residents who request the service.

The fire fighters educate residents about the importance of fire safety and provide them smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers – all free of charge for Woodbridge residents.

Keith Repace, president of Local 290, said the program unofficially started in January after a fire broke out in a family’s basement. The home owner had a fire extinguisher, but it didn’t work and kids were inside at the time.

Repace said fire fighters were aware of similar programs in neighboring towns and in other parts of the country. After the January fire, fire fighters got the ball rolling by going to Lowe’s and purchasing the materials they needed to get the program off the ground.

About 20 home visits have been scheduled and fire fighters not only make it a part of their daily routine but on their off time as well. Most inspections however have been done in the day time, Repace said.

At one home safety inspection, fire fighters discovered an electrical fire in the wall of a residence and were able to intervene before any further damage was done. Had the fire fighters not been there doing a home safety inspection, there almost certainly would have had a different outcome.

In a 30 minute home inspection, the fire fighters help residents make an effective safety plan and show them how to use a fire extinguisher.

Usually, home owners are surprised to learn how easy it is to use a home extinguisher, Repace said.

Fire fighters also inspect and (sometimes) install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire fighters also explain how the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors work and how to properly maintain the devices, placing emphasis on changing the batteries in each device twice a year.

Local 290 is currently awaiting financial support of the program through different grant sources including the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant and a product donation from Kidde. The fire union is supporting the program until a grant is approved.

Repace said the program has gotten great support from the district’s fire commissioners and the community.

He hopes other fire departments everywhere will see the good in the program and start one in their communities.

“Everyone has been really so appreciative so far,” said Repace.

You can learn more about Local 290’s home fire prevention program by visiting their website.

And read this story about the program in